Do you go blackberrying? And if so, what do you make with your haul? Blackberry and Apple Crumble? Bramble Jelly? Blackberry Gin?
I have several favourite blackberry recipes whose purple-stained pages open almost by themselves at this time of year.
The best of them, I think, is this recipe for Blackberry Ice Cream which I adapted from one given to me by the mother of a friend years ago. I suppose it isn't really an ice cream as it has no cream in it but it tastes like the best of the best gelati. It's simple, has a fabulous velvet texture and tastes vividly of the blackberries that have gone into it. It is also the most stunning crimson colour - serve it in green, pale blue, or white bowls to show it off to best effect. It's economical, even thrifty, to make partly because the ingredients aren't expensive (especially if you pick wild blackberries for free) and partly because it's so intense you don't need much of it to make a very satisfying finish to a meal.
What you need:
*1lb / 500g ripe blackberries, preferably wild ones but cultivated will do;
6 oz / 170 g sugar, ordinary white caster or granulated;
half a small lemon
1 cup / 250 ml full-fat plain natural yoghurt; I use homemade yoghurt made from whole milk but you can use thick Greek yoghurt or any other thick full-fat natural yoghurt you like; don't use low-fat yoghurt for this or you won't get the rounded velvetiness in the texture that's so special;
*If you have a bigger haul of fruit, just scale up the quantities of the other ingredients.
First soak your blackberries in a roomy bowl of cold water for half an hour or so in case there are any maggots lurking therein. Not wanting to drown, any maggots will make their way out of the fruit and can then - (sorry, I know I am heartless!) - be washed down the sink. Rinse the soaked blackberries under the cold tap (just in case there are any tenacious maggots that haven't received their marching orders!) and leave to drain in a colander.
Now place the fruit in a large non-reactive pan with the lemon juice and sugar. Stir gently and heat just until the juices start to run. This is important for the flavour of the finished ice. You don't want to overcook the berries but you do want all the juices to run freely so let it just come to a bubbling boil for a minute or so but no longer.
Remove from the heat and push the mixture with a wooden spoon through a scrupulously clean sieve into a jug. Be patient with this stage of the procedure - it pays not to give up too soon - you want as much of the blackberry flesh and juice as you can extract for the best flavour and texture. I sometimes whizz the blackberries in the food processor before sieving, to help the process along, but you don't have to. Discard the dryish mess of pips you are left with in the sieve once you are done.
Chill the blackberry purée. Once it is cold, stir in the yoghurt. Chill again. The mixture should be as cold as possible before churning.
You are now ready to churn your ice cream - it takes about 25 minutes in my ice cream churner but follow the instructions for churning in your make and model. Once churned to the consistency of softly whipped cream, decant into a pristine polythene box, label and store in the freezer until required. If it's frozen completely solid allow it half an hour in the fridge before trying to serve it.
If you don't have an ice cream churner, pour the mixture into a large, sturdy polythene box (again make sure it is scrupulously clean) and put in the freezer for an hour. Now whisk the mixture with a squeaky clean electric whisk and put back in the freezer for another hour. Repeat the process at least once more, possibly twice depending on how frozen the ice cream is at each stage.
Serve it exactly as it is - no adornments desired or extras needed - enjoy!